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Crow in Stolen Colors    by Marcia Simpson order for
Crow in Stolen Colors
by Marcia Simpson
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2000 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback

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*   Reviewed by G. Hall

This first book by Marcia Simpson joins an ever larger set of stories set in Alaska. Both Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow have written many excellent Alaskan mysteries and Christopher West is another more recent addition to this group of authors. Many of these books also prominently feature Native Americans, another popular trend in current mystery fiction.

Alaska has the allure of the frontier and can be a refuge for troubled souls who want to escape their previous lives. Often this description fits the sleuths in these mysteries, as much as the subsidiary characters. In addition, Alaskan life still holds challenges for its residents with the vast distances and limited roads as well as a large wild animal population - all in all a perfect setting for an action-packed adventure.

Crow in Stolen Colors conforms to the Alaskan mystery stereotype, since its main character Liza Romero has migrated there to start a new life after her law enforcement husband was killed in the line of duty. She begins as a librarian but soon starts a much more adventurous life as the skipper of a trawler delivering packages and books to residents along the coast of southeastern Alaska.

Liza becomes involved in a murder early in the tale when she discovers a small boy and the dead body of a much older man, both Native Americans, on an isolated shore. She becomes very attached to the scared, close-mouthed James almost from the beginning. Liza takes on the role of his protector when it shortly becomes clear that whoever killed his grandfather is now after James.

While the setting and the theme of stolen native artifacts is very interesting, the book has flaws. The rhythm throughout is high speed and tiring for the reader. In addition, the characters, other than a few main ones, are not well-drawn and seem interchangeable. Still this has the makings of an interesting series with an intriguing sleuth and setting.

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